Against Popular Culture

There is so much meat to chew on in this essay discussing Adorno’s views on art and popular culture. What is the function of art? What is the danger of its commercialization? What is all this easy entertainment doing to us?

– via (to whom I recently subscribed, because it’s hard to find writing this interesting and this accessible these days, and finding it consistently is worth way more than they charge for a subscription)

Medicine, Magic, and Art

It’s a turn-around jump shot
it’s everybody jump start
it’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
medicine is magical and magical is art
think of the Boy in the Bubble
and the baby with the baboon heart.

– Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble” Graceland

The Origin of Human Stories

There’s little in life more encouraging than seeing one of your favorite blogs ( link to (and riff on) a post on another one of your favorite blogs (BLDGBLOG). In this case, these posts discuss the origin of humanity, exploring its reality versus the stories we tell about our origins. Fascinatingly, it seems we’ve readily abandoned our long history as nomads of land and sea, choosing instead to portray ourselves as the perpetually fixed residents of gardens and cities and god-mandated overland empires.

– via Kottke, via BLDGBLOG


I’ve always felt hospitals should be peaceful places, but these days, the peace of hospitals seems hidden away in forgotten satellite lobbies and empty courtyards: everywhere else it’s crap television and smartphone noise, because, apparently, the consensus is that it would be a shame if the patients were the only people plugged in around here. We have grown to fear emptiness, even though it’s waiting to claim us one day, in the noise of a hospital.

Storytelling and Memory

It is the storyteller… who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that survivors must have — otherwise surviving would have no meaning… This is very, very important… Memory is necessary if surviving is going to be more than just a technical thing.

Chinua Achebe, as quoted by the imitable Brain Pickings

Megalopolis Boundaries

What major city holds sway over your little town? This algorithm has seen all the data and it’s just itching to share its opinion. Disagree? Don’t leave an angry comment here, take it up with the algorithm: I’m sure it will be happy to tell you what you can do with your weakly human, data-ignorant opinion.

– via Web Urbanist